As a controversial figure the magnitude and the divisiveness of the response to The Iron Lady's death is in many ways unsurprising but personally I have found the tsunami of vitriol shocking. When did it become acceptable in society for us to celebrate the death of any individual? Albeit a controversial politician but not a mass murderer. And I question whether the celebration of the death of any individual is appropriate - yes even the Osama Bin Ladens of the world; mass murderer, terrorist, purveyor of hatred and separation and someone whom society is undoubtedly better off without? Yes. But is it every right to celebrate the death of another human being? No matter how heinous their crimes and how relieved we may be that one less 'bad' person exists in the world by celebrating death of any individual do we not simply add to the toxic fog that already engulfs our society and that frankly needs to be cleared?
But back to Thatcher. It hasn't all been vitriol and hate, of course there have been glowing tributes by those who shared her political stance but there have also been warm and genuine tributes and praise from unexpected quarters - from her 'arch enemies' whom even in their divisive stance from her politically have been able to express their admiration for her. All credit to them as it takes a bigger person to be able to recognise and publicly acknowledge the positive amongst the perceived negatives of an 'enemy'.
And ultimately almost all human beings, albeit on differing scales have positive and negative attributes. There is good and bad in the worst and the best of us. But where her political rivals have expressed admiration for her and/or agreed to attend her funeral they have come under scathing attacks from their own quarters by those who have been enraged that they dare show any form of support to the 'enemy'. You are either with us or against us seems the logic. Black or white - with no shades of grey allowed in between.
And of course who can forget the death parties - claimed to be a celebration of the death of all Thatcher represented - and piggy backed on by some as an excuse for riots and criminal behaviour, largely it seems by those who weren't even alive in Thatcher's time in office and probably couldn't state five facts about her. Much like the riots in London in the summer of 2011 these people aren't truly sticking up for the rights of the poor and under trodden - rather they are people defecating and urinating (both metaphorically and literally) on their own turfs. Sadly as the riots of 2011 showed there are many in our society that are simply angry and looking for any excuse to display their anger and hatred - and yes many of these people are disaffected and feel maligned by society and the world. They don't feel a sense of community, they probably don't feel much hope for their lives, dreams or ambitions and hence at any given opportunity they lash out. This does not excuse their behaviour or really and truly explain the entire reasoning for it but I think is commonly accepted that those that have no sense of community, ambition or hope are both self-destructive and destructive to others. And this is undoubtedly something that needs to be dealt with but not in this way. There is no point in beating fire with fire - it just makes the inferno rage further and it goes without saying that doesn't help any of us.
But, perhaps more worryingly, the vitriol and hatred we have seen in the last week is not limited to those who are either too young and foolish or uneducated enough to know better. I have been truly shocked not only at the behaviour of some of those who are supposed to be the lynchpins of our society - teachers, police officers and others in public service in attending and promoting 'death parties' but also at many of the vile posts on social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook by strangers and people I actually know and consider friends. People who are 'educated' either formally or through the school of life, parents, those in positions of responsibility, some in the public eye, have been posting some of the most immature, vile and frankly pathetic status updates regarding Thatcher's death. Many of these have defended their actions as being political, stating that Thatcher destroyed Britain and society and therefore their posts are justified. However when their statements have been challenged they have done the social networking equivalent of putting their hands over their ears and said 'na na Im not listening' and have made a point blank refusal to depart from their hatred, vitriol and immaturity and to actually enter into a calm, rational debate about the situation.
Most of what is wrong with society, both in once Great Britain and in other western democracies across the world is the inability of those with differing opinions to see the wood for the trees. This myopic stubbornness that their opinion is the correct one and that their 'opposition' cannot possibly be correct or that they cannot possibly agree to their opposition being correct on any matters for fear that it will be seen as a weakness causes half the problems and stalling we see in politics that impedes the much needed progress of our society. You only need to watch Prime Ministers Question Time in the UK or a House debate in the US to see what I am talking about. Childish, vitriolic point scoring that doesn't help effect positive change in any way whatsoever. But whilst we all criticise politicians we must also look within. If we want change in our society we must be the change we want to see. Those of us that should know better should be asking serious questions of whether the kind of behaviour many have engaged in during the last week whilst perhaps temporarily feeding the ego's desire to lash out, in anyway contributes positively to society or goes anyway to actually change the things that we are lashing out about. I think the uncomfortable answer is that it doesn't and that it isn't just politicians of all parties that need to buck up their ideas and behaviours but all of us as individuals who form part of a broken society whose fires need fixing not fuelling.